Blitzboks veteran Justin Geduld. Photo: SA Rugby website

Blitzboks punished by France in Olympic qualification setback

The Blitzboks suffered a defeat to France as they endured another setback in their quest for automatic Olympic qualification.


Blitzboks veteran Justin Geduld. Photo: SA Rugby website

Coming into this weekend’s France Sevens, the Blitzboks need to at least reach the semi-finals in Toulouse to stay in the race for automatic qualification for the Olympic Games.

New Zealand and hosts France secured their tickets to Paris 2024 already, with the three remaining spots to be filled over the next two weekends.

However, the Blitzboks made the worst possible start against France when they fell 14-0 behind at half-time, while the hosts then scored twice straight after the restart to effectively seal the result with minutes remaining.

Although South Africa did hit back with one try, they ultimately suffered a resounding 31-7 defeat.

Next up the Springbok Sevens will face Fiji on Friday night, and considering how the Blitzboks have struggled for form this season, the warning bells are ringing loudly.


The Blitzboks came into this tournament with everything to do

With Blitzboks seventh on the overall World Rugby Sevens Series log with two tournaments left, coach Sandile Ngcobo had said their approach is to use this weekend’s HSBC France Sevens at Stade Ernst-Wallon as an Olympic trial.

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“We had a good look at who we are playing in our pool and realised that it is actually a carbon copy of what can happen at the Olympics,” said Ngcobo.

“Our second game is against Fiji, the double Olympic gold medal winners, who will be very eager to confirm their qualification status by winning the tournament. Again, we will be tested like no other by their style of play and their desire to do well.”

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USA await on Saturday: “They are also not guaranteed qualification and few teams will be so motivated by making it to the Olympics like USA, as they are probably the country with the proudest history and tradition at the Olympic Games in general.

“So, they will be really pumped as well. We will face three teams who will be motivated for different reasons, but all because of the Olympics.

“If we do well here and can qualify for Paris 2024, chances are that we will have to do the same again, only at a different venue. So yes, this is our Olympic trial run, despite us not having confirmed qualification,” explained Ngcobo.

Argentina can qualify by making the semi-finals and Fiji can secure their spot by winning the tournament.

New Zealand, Uruguay, Kenya and Canada will meet in Pool A; Argentina tackle Great Britain, Spain and Germany in Pool B; and Samoa, Australia, Japan and Ireland do battle in Pool D.

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SA pool fixtures (all matches live on SuperSport):

Friday, 12 May
14h35: Blitzboks beaten by France
21h03: Fiji

Saturday, 13 May
13h49: USA

Selected Stats:

  • South Africa won the HSBC France Sevens in 2006, 2017 and 2018.
  • Siviwe Soyizwapi will play in his 50th tournament of the World Series.
  • Justin Geduld makes his return to the World Series after a 15-month absence due to injury.
Sandile ngcobo blitzboks
The Blitzboks have faced a daunting pool draw. Photo: SA Rugby website